A Story of Unravelling Minds
A non-fiction literary psycho-thriller about a clinical neuropsychologist’s descent into madness with an ingenious and shocking twist
Let Me Not Be Mad is an immersive, virtuosic and provocative investigation of madness, love and self-destruction that defies categorisation.
A consulting room with two people in it. One of them is talking, the other is listening. Both of them need help.
Throughout his life, A K Benjamin has found himself drawn to extreme behaviour – as a screenwriter, a contemplative monk, a counsellor for addicts, a support-worker for gang-members and ultimately as a clinical neuropsychologist.
His book begins as a series of superbly realised clinical encounters with anonymised patients, some recently traumatised, some on the brink of mental collapse, others already in freefall. But with each encounter, it becomes increasingly and disturbingly apparent that what we are reading is not really about the patients at all: it is about the author’s own fevered descent into mental illness and mania as he confronts his traumatic past.
Layered with twists and revelations, Let Me Not Be Mad challenges the boundary between fact and fiction to provide a thrilling drama of self-diagnosis: a hall of mirrors blazing with energy, intensity, humour and emotion. And though shockingly personal, it also reveals something deep and dark in western culture that is driving millions of us to distraction and collapse.
“Let Me Not be Mad is stunning: clever, troubling, restless, honest, dishonest; one of the best portraits of madness and clinical practice I’ve read. I read it in two sittings. Extraordinary”
“Exhilarating ... dazzling ... a miraculous feat”
“Brilliant and alarming, written with cunning and self-lacerating honesty. The doctor is sick, but his intelligence, his scope of reference, his damaged sagacity could save us all”
“A mental-health memoir like no other … a genre-defying wake-up call of a book … compelling … clever humane … holding back a sly twist for the end”
“A perfectly extraordinary – not to mention extraordinarily perfect – drama that centres about the fraught, ferocious, hilarious, dangerous and explosive relationships that develop between therapist and patient. Like a tense Hitchcockian psychodrama, the ticking bomb of the psychiatrist's own sanity makes itself heard on every page. In unravelling the minds of others, the mind of the analyst can often unravel too. I have rarely read a more haunting, enthralling and perfectly written account of a descent into madness. An important, profound and fascinating book”
“Imagine a gonzo Oliver Sacks communing with Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose, R.D. Laing and the spirit of Kafka’s 'The Country Doctor', and you still won’t quite have the flavour of this wild and strikingly original book”
“A treasure of a book. Intricately woven and deeply intimate, it reveals things that astonish, surprise and improve us”
James Rhodes, author of Instrumental
“Blackly comic, warmly compassionate, a unique take on the human mind offering uncomfortable universal truths”
“A truly astonishing journey into and out of the mind. Not content to pin you down with the intense intimacy of his storytelling Benjamin dramatises some of the most profound and intractable issues in neuroscience and psychiatry. I’ve never read anything like it”
Professor Mark Lythgoe, UCL
“At first I thought this an exceptionally well written book in the genre of medical story telling. The more I read the more I realised it’s an exceptional book in a genre all of its own. Insightful, wonderfully well observed and beautifully written”
Suzanne O'Sullivan, author of It's All in Your Head
“Like a meeting of Oliver Sacks and Hunter S Thompson … this is not a simple narrative of striking cases written by a far-seeing practitioner. It’s a turbo-charged race”
Lisa Appignanesi, New Statesman
“[A] maddening, saddening, slow-burn belter of a book”
Thomas W. Hodgkinson, Spectator
“Let Me Not Be Mad is a different sort of beast… a dizzying whirlpool… [the] effect is intentional, and many have found it compelling”
Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday
“Brilliant and engrossing”